Adrian Griffin may not have the speed, but he has the size to make Dwyane Wade play at a mere human level in the Finals.
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Maybe. In two head-to-head matchups this season, Wade averaged 19.5 points on 40.6 percent shooting, both far below his season averages. He also shot just 1 for 7 in the first half of the Mavericks' blowout win in Dallas on Feb. 9. To get a feel for how the Mavericks defended Wade in that game, I watched every one of his possessions, using the video archive provided for free through the Finals by Synergy Sports Technology. What I found was that while the Mavericks did a good job of defending Wade, it wasn't quite as good as the numbers would make it seem; Wade did miss a few shots he would normally make.
While Wade has been unbelievable in these playoffs, particularly against Detroit, he is not without weakness. The Sonics noticed before their first matchup with Miami in the '04-05 season that Wade is significantly less effective when he goes left. Synergy Sports' numbers bear out this assertion. While Wade goes to his left more than 60 percent of the time, his offensive rating is just 95 points per 100 possessions on these plays as compared with 117 when he goes right. The reason is that he is much more likely to shoot a jumper when forced left than when he goes right. When defenses can force Wade to shoot from the perimeter, they win the matchup.
The Sonics have done a reasonably good job of defending Wade the last two seasons; he has shot 41.3 percent from the field against them over four games in that span. Dallas, one of four teams known to subscribe to Synergy Sports' service and famous for tracking everything, should be well aware of Wade's tendencies. However, in the film I watched, the Mavericks' strategy was to force Wade to the baseline on either side of the basket, where the center provided help.
Dallas has a cadre of athletic swingmen who can defend Wade. The main responsibilities likely will fall to Adrian Griffin, who stands to play an important role in this series. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Griffin is the right size to match up with Wade, whereas Detroit's lockdown defenders were either too big (Tayshaun Prince) or too small (Lindsey Hunter) to get the job done. A notch below All-Defense caliber, Griffin is nonetheless a strong one-on-one stopper. Josh Howard also stands to see heavy action against Wade, while Marquis Daniels defended Wade during the teams' first matchup this season.